Over the past number of years, I have learned to embrace the use of mobile phones in my classroom. While they can still be a distraction at times (although, students can get distracted by so many things), I find that these pocket communicators can be helpful in so many ways.
One thing I have started using over the past year or so is GoSoapBox, a mostly free tool for online polls, quizzes, and discussions. For me, the free version is more than enough for my classes, but there are some paid options that may be useful for larger classes. The free version allows smaller classes of fewer than 30 students to access all of the online tools. The only person who needs to register is the teacher. Students just need a code to enter the online class.
Here is what it can do, and how you can use it. Towards the end of this post, I will share some of the ways I use it in my classroom.
Creating an account (teachers)
- Go to GoSoapBox.com and click on Join Event / Sign In.
- Enter your name, email address, and create a password before clicking on Sign Up Now.
- Check your email to verify the account
Creating an Event
I create an event for each class. This means students don’t have to learn a new code each time we use it.
- Go to app.gosoapbox.com and click on Sign In.
- Type in your email address and password for the account and click on Sign In.
- Click on Create.
- Give your event a name and click on Create.
- Write down the code for your class and click on Proceed To Your Event.
Adding and Removing Features from Your Event
There are a number of different options for your event. You can turn on or off each item in the moderator’s section.
- Go to your event if you aren’t already there. Once there, scroll down and click on Moderate This Event.
- Click on View Access Code Information in case you have forgotten the code. Since the code is already shown on the moderation page, I only use this option to display it larger on a projected screen for students.
- Click on Change Event Details to change the name or access code of your event. You can also add an announcement to the top of the student page.
- Click on Enable and Disable Features.
- Click on each item to turn it on or off.
When you create an event, all of the features are turned on other than Instant Polling, Social Q&A, and Math Formatting. You will want to set up your event based on what you would like to do that day in class. Here are what each of those features does.
- Barometer: This is a simply, yet surprisingly effective tool to check on how students are doing. Student can click on I am confused on their own device and you will see a counter of how many students are online versus those who are confused.
- Quizzes: You can create simple multiple-choice or text based questions to test to see if students understand what is happening. This is a fairly quick formative assessment to do in class.
- Polls: You can set up a poll ahead of time and then turn it on in class. You can add text and an image and then view the results as a pie or bar chart. You can also turn on or off the ability for students to see the results on their own device. You may want to do this if you would prefer for them to only see the results once everyone has had a chance to participate.
- Instant Polls: This is a tool I often use in class. It allows you to get a quick answer from students based on something you either said out loud, wrote on the whiteboard, or put on a slide.
- Discussions: Create a discussion question and students can post their answers.
- Social Q&A: Students or teachers can post questions or responses and those can be upvoted by others, moving the most relevant comments or questions to the top of the list. Another tool I use regularly in the classroom.
- Profanity Filter: Allows the site to monitor bad language.
- Names Required: When on, students have to type in their name before entering the class.
- Math Formatting: Allows students to use math formatting.
How do I use it in class?
- I use Instant Polls for concept checking. I’ll pose a question and give a few options. Students can vote and I get instant results. I love that it is anonymous.
- I use Social Q&A to take ongoing comments and questions from students who might not ask them otherwise. The other students will often upvote a question they also have, bringing it to the top of the list. I address those and then do an Instant Poll to see if they understand.
- I use Discussions with students in physical groups. Students can sit together and discuss something with one student posting their comments or answers for the team. We then go over the results together as a class.
- I leave the Barometer in class to see if I am leaving some students behind, but I find the Social Q&A a bit better for this.